To compete or not to compete

Matt Stone

Master of Arts
Dec 4, 2001
Reaction score
Fort Lewis, Washington
I would say compete... here's why -

Realizing that competition is just that - competition - will ensure you don't fall prey to the common misconception that tournament wins equal real martial skill... That isn't to say that a tournament champion is necessarily unskilled in real self defense techniques, just that it doesn't necessarily mean that because he/she wins in the ring that he/she will win on the street.

That having been said, it bears mentioning (however briefly) that MA wasn't really meant to be used against other MAists... Sure, there are some arts (Bagua among them) that were intended, at least in part, to be used against skilled opponents. But the bulk of MAs were intended to provide the needed skills to tip the balance of power in favor of the MAist and away from his unskilled attacker.

Who cares?

Competition is one venue through which you can confront an "attacker" and test your skills against them. Granted, many of the skills you should be training for use in "real" situations are illegal in sport combat, but there are other things that get tested that are equally important - your pucker factor for one!

Competition is a good training experience. View it as such. Do not fall victim to the mentality that winning at a tournament means you know anything at all about fighting. Relish the experience, get to know other people from other schools. Foster friendship between arts. Learn about yourself. Then toss the medals in the closet and get back to training...



Competition CAN lead to bad habits and bad attitudes, IF you approach them as a "win at all costs" endeavor.

But, for most people, competition is a personal attempt to get past fearing the unknown, or fearing getting hit.
Sure, some people are trophy collectors...but they are easy to spot and they only fool the gullible public.

YOU can certainly learn from must decide what you want to get out of it...maybe you lose the match but WIN that thing you set as a goal.

Personally, I don't know how many times I've competed (plenty) and I'm sure my losses exceed my wins....but I've discarded every trophy or medal, because that was NOT my reason to compete...I got what I wanted out of it...after a time, you may say OK, enough of this...and that's OK, too.


Mike Clarke

I think most people who've been around for a while understand that competition is good for some things and not so good for other things. For example it's no good for testing ones 'fighting' ability because it's very much removed from real fighting.
On the other hand it is good for building the confidence of those who may be shy and have found a way to go out and strut their stuff in front of lots of people.
Over all, I think, competitions if viewed in their correct context are good for those new to martial arts as a way of building some confidence and having some fun. The problem is competitions are often built up into something else, and this is their downfall.
Back in the mid-70's I did lots of competitions around England and Europe and had fun travelling and competing, though I never believed I was fighting anyone [you could actually 'hit' the guy back then] there were those who did, and this lead them to think they were better fighters than they were.

I guess everyone has to make a judgement about the value competitions have for them in the context of what it is they're trying to achieve with their involvment in the martial arts?

Happy New Year to everyone,